“To know God as the sovereign disposer of all good, inviting us to present our requests, and yet not to approach or ask of him, were so far from availing us, that it were just as if one told of a treasure were to allow it to remain buried in the ground.” —John Calvin
The sinfulness of man requires the power of God to overcome our nature, bringing us to Christ and setting us free from our sins, removing us from the kingdom of darkness and placing us into the kingdom of God, adopting us as sons of God and joint heirs with Christ, establishing both our ability to stand before the righteous throne of Almighty God as well as establishing our right to do so by virtue of Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to our account. Therefore, our prayers are heard and answered upon this basis, seeing that God has opened up the doors of heaven, and by virtue of the cross of Jesus has welcomed us in.
In this post, I would like to briefly focus upon four prayer types: 1) Adoration and worship; 2) Thanksgiving; 3) Confession; and 4) Supplication and Petition. The first two I’ll merge together and only briefly touch on them. I want to focus more on Confession and Supplication/Petition as it relates to the Power of God in Prayer.
Adoration/Worship and Thanksgiving
The first two prayer types are prayers of response. When we pray with thanksgiving and adoration, we are responding to the acts of God which reflect his power to redeem, provide, create and sustain.
- Adoration and Worship – Exodus 15
- Thanksgiving – Psalm 138
In your life God has shown you his mighty power, whether it has been through salvation, provision, guidance, providential care, healing or some other way. Does your prayer life reflect this?
Confession is made with the belief that:
- We have an omniscient God who knows our sin and we agree with him that we have transgressed his law. Prov. 5:21; Ps 51:3.
- We have sinned against our holy God who cannot look upon sin and is just in punishing our iniquity. Ps 51:4, 11.
- We have a merciful God who can remove the dark stain of sin through the blood of Christ’s substitutionary death upon the cross. Ps 51:7-10.
Some people, even Christians, live with the awful burden of past sins that they believe are unforgiven and unforgivable, even by God.
First Corinthians 6:9-11 is the hope of Christ and the power of God demonstrated to the worst of sinners. It says,
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Take your eyes off of your sin and put them on Christ!
Supplication and Petition
Supplications and petitions can be placed roughly into two categories:Personal prayer needs (for self and others) and Prayer for the Kingdom of God.
Biblical examples of personal prayers include:
- For food (Matt 6:11)
- For healing/trials (2Cor 12:7)
- For persecution relief (Acts 12:6-19)
- For pain and suffering (Psalms of David, Job)
- For wisdom (James 1:5)
Prayer for the Work of the Kingdom, including:
- For open doors of opportunity (Col 4:3)
- For strength in times of persecution (Acts 4:29)
- For boldness in the face of opposition (Acts 4:29)
In the area of supplications and petitions we can become reluctant to pray as we should. We need to answer the questions: Can he answer? and Will he answer? Consider the words of Jesus himself:
“And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mk 11:22-24)
“And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”” (Mk 9:23)
Do we use, “If the Lord wills” as an excuse for our lack of faith? Many things the Lord wills, but we often fail to ask (James 4:2). Sometimes we can be so afraid of falling into the error and heresy of prosperity gospel preachers that we fall short of a full dependence on God in prayer. We sanitize the words of Jesus and our prayer becomes anemic. Consider these verses:
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Heb 11:6)
“ And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matt 21:22)
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” (James 5:17-18)
Do these verses cause you to imagine what God could do? Do they set your heart racing? Or do you find yourself doubting, and adding exceptions? The ability for your prayers to be answered is not so much about who you are, as much as it is about who you believe God is!